One of the incredibly famous Easter Island moai statues no longer exists thanks to a truck smashing into it. The crash was an accident.
Police arrested a resident in Chile on March 1 after he plowed his truck into one of the Easter Island stone figures. He damaged both the statue and his truck, along with the platform it was perched upon.
The island, known as Hanga Roa by the native Rapa Nui people, plays host to the moai stone heads that have long intrigued humankind.
Camilo Rapu is the president of the indigenous Rapa Nui community of Easter Island. He told CNN that “the damage is incalculable.”
Local authorities say that the truck’s brakes failed and the vehicle slid downhill. We don’t yet know if the man in the accident has hired a serious injury attorney.
Now the mayor of the island, Pedro Edmunds Paoa, wants to pass stricter regulations. He wants rules that will prohibit vehicles from driving close to the ancient statues. Paoa told the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio de Valparaiso that he tried to pass similar legislation eight years ago, to no avail.
He’s hoping that after this week, the proposal might have a better chance of approval.
“The moai are sacred structures of religious value for the Rapa Nui people,” said Paoa. “Furthermore, [the damage of the moai] is an offense to a culture that has lived many years struggling to recover its heritage and archaeology.”
The island has become easier to access from the mainland, and residents are now concerned with overtourism.
Jo Anne Van Tilburg is the Director of the Easter Island Statue Project. In 2019, she told CNN Travel that tourists caused problems with their bad behavior. For example, many of them take pictures trying to “pick the noses” of the moai.
“There are 10000 statues and there are 5000 people,” said Van Tilburg. She is urging visitors to engage local guides and services and to pay proper respect to the Rapa Nui community.
Officials implemented some measures in 2018 in an attempt to curb overtourism. A new visa policy made it so that non-Rapa Chileans and foreigners could only get visas for 30 days. They were previously allowed 90.